Across the country, schools and homes have elves on their shelves to prompt good behavior.
The elves are watching, you see, to see if kids are behaving. If not, the elves will report to Santa, which means some unfortunate little boys and girls might not get what they want for Christmas.
Decades ago when I was a youngster, there was no elf on the shelf.
Santa Claus himself was watching us, or the Big Man upstairs. Like the popular elf, they were liable to be anywhere and everywhere.
We were threatened with a lump of coal in our stockings, or a sackful of switches for Christmas if we didn't behave.
Pretty dire consequences, right?
But that wasn't the worst of it. Sometimes we were told the Booger Man might get us.
I'm not sure how long these threats are effective, but I can remember being more aware of my words and deeds in the weeks leading up to Christmas. If I did or said something I shouldn't have, my conscience at least spoke to me.
Of course, I knew Santa wasn't real, but the Big Man?
He's the one I didn't want to mess with.
How were you encouraged to be well-behaved when you were a child?